January 2012

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January 2012

. The Year of the Dragon .

. Join the Dragon Friends .


Sunday, January 1, 2012

The first sunrise in my valley was wonderful!

Radiation in Japan :
Fukushima 0.96
Tokyo 0.054
Aomori 0.028
Shizuoka 0.039

. Daily Radiation Levels .

Arrival of 2012 observed
Many worshippers have paid their first visit of the new year to shrines and temples in Japan, praying for the health of their family and rebuilding of life from the March disaster last year.
At Tokyo's Meiji Shrine, after a drumbeat signaled the arrival of 2012, people threw money into boxes for offerings, and prayed.
Some of them bought charms to ward off bad luck, while others wrote their wishes on wooden plaques.
A high school student said that 2011 was a depressing year with the March disaster but she intends to overcome the difficulty and enjoy life with strong conviction this year.
Meiji Shrine officials say they expect more than three million visitors during the first three days of January, about the same number as in previous years.
In Ishinomaki City in Miyagi Prefecture, which was hit hard by the tsunami in March, many people gathered on top of a hill to welcome the first sunrise of the year.
When the sun began to rise behind a mountain, many took photographs. As the sun shed light over the devastated area, some pressed their hands together and prayed, facing toward the area where many lives were lost.
A 52-year-old woman who lost her house to the tsunami said she still feels sad looking at the affected area. She said that 2011 was a year of hardship, and she hopes 2012 will be a happy one.

DIY cesium scanning store may be 'new normal'
The triple disasters in March set the unthinkable in motion in 2011, and the surreal sight of a DIY radiation testing facility standing next to an Internet cafe in a Chiba city raises a question for Japan: Is this the new normal?

What 2011 means for Japan in 2012 and beyond

Japan's population decline accelerated in 2011
2011 saw the fewest number of newborns since the end of World War Two in Japan. The decline in the country's population is accelerating.
The health ministry estimates that one million 57 thousand babies were born in 2011. That's a drop of about 14,000 from the previous year.
The number of deaths in 2011 was estimated at one million 261 thousand. That's up around 64,000 due to the aging population and the March disaster. ...

Temporary problem with reactor monitoring system
The Japanese government's nationwide nuclear reactor monitoring system failed to provide data for at least 24 hours before being restored on Saturday afternoon.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says that on early Friday afternoon a rapid reaction point near Shika nuclear power plant in Ishikawa Prefecture reported that all data from the Emergency Response and Support System was not showing up on its screens.
The system monitors pressure, temperature, and other real-time conditions of reactors at nuclear power plants across the country, as well as radiation dosage in surrounding areas. The system also predicts future conditions of reactors based on such data.
The information can be accessed from terminals at the agency and rapid reaction points around the country.
The agency says its investigation discovered that a facility of the state-affiliated operator of the system was not transmitting any data for unknown reasons.
But the system recovered without any grave result at around 2:30 PM on Saturday. The agency says it is looking into the cause of the problem and how long the system was out of operation.
The agency says it regrets that important data became temporarily inaccessible. It also apologizes for a delay in the announcement.

Emperor delivers New Year message
The Emperor and Empress have received New Year greetings from family members at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
Sunday's ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and his Cabinet.
Lower House Speaker Takahiro Yokomichi and Upper House President Kenji Hirata offered good wishes to the Emperor and the Imperial family on behalf of the nation's lawmakers.
The Emperor said in a speech that he prays for the Japanese people and the country's development on the occasion of the New Year.
The Imperial couple also received greetings from foreign ambassadors stationed in Tokyo.
In his message to the Japanese people, the Emperor said Japan is facing difficulty following the March disaster and other hardships.
The Emperor said he hopes the people's hearts will always be with the afflicted and that everyone will persevere and work together to build a brighter future.
On Monday, the Emperor, Empress and other Imperial family members will appear on the veranda of the palace 5 times to receive greetings from the public.

Powerful earthquake hits Tokyo

A strong earthquake struck Tokyo and surrounding areas on Sunday afternoon.
The earthquake occurred at around 2:28 PM local time.
Japan's Meteorological Agency says the earthquake had an estimated magnitude of 7.0, with its focus 370 kilometers deep near Torishima Island in the Pacific Ocean.
The agency says the quake registered 4 on the Japanese scale of zero to 7 in 7 prefectures.

The jolt was felt in a wide area, from the northern main island of Hokkaido to the western part of Honshu Island.
The coastal cities of Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, and Iwanuma, Miyagi Prefecture, were among those that felt the strongest tremor.
Tokyo Electric Power Company said no new developments are reported at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and nearby Daini nuclear plant.
The agency hasn't issued a tsunami alert.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Snow and a strong cold front in Japan.

New year begins with strong quake
A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.0 jolts a wide area in eastern and northeastern Japan on Sunday afternoon.
(Friends in Tokyo reported it was quite terrifying . . . )

Challenges ahead at Fukushima nuclear plant
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant has to juggle two daunting tasks this year. One is to continue cooling the damaged reactors. The other is to start preparing for decommissioning.
The Japanese government said 2 weeks ago that the reactors at the plant had reached a state of cold shutdown -- the second phase in the program to bring the plant under control.
The government and Tokyo Electric Power Company released a work schedule showing that decommissioning may take 40 years.
The nuclear fuel must be removed from reactors 1, 2, and 3 before the reactors and their buildings are scrapped. Some of the fuel is believed to have melted and fallen through to the containment vessels.
This year, TEPCO will remove debris from the Number 4 reactor building, which was damaged by explosions, so it can start removing spent nuclear fuel.
As part of its preparations for decommissioning, TEPCO will conduct research and develop technology for decontaminating the inside of the reactor buildings and repairing the containment vessels.
The nuclear fuel needs to be cooled as it is still emitting heat. TEPCO plans to halve the length of the 4-kilometer-long pipes used for cooling and treating contaminated water. It also plans to install a new facility to remove radioactive strontium from waste water.
Professor Hisashi Ninokata of the Tokyo Institute of Technology says there is always a risk that contaminated water in the pipes will leak. He says TEPCO should minimize the hazards by preventing groundwater from seeping into buildings and by making the system that filters waste water more compact.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

. . . . . at 3:28
Earthquake M 5.1, off Ibaraki coast
Felt as 2 in the region.

Fukushima meltdowns set nuclear energy debate on its ear

Emperor wishes public a better year

Emperor Akihito says he hopes 2012 will be a better year for the Japanese people as the country continues to recover from last year's earthquake and tsunami.
He gave his annual New Year greetings to the public on Monday, addressing thousands of well-wishers from the balcony of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
More than 8,000 people stood in the cold to wait for the palace's main gate to open at 9:30 AM local time.

Ritual lion dance performed in tsunami-hit Miyagi
Dancers in a tsunami-hit town in northern Japan performed a traditional New Year lion dance to remember the victims and pray for reconstruction.
The Watanoha district of Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, has staged the dance each year for more than 400 years. Traditionally, performers go from house to house on New Year's Day to pray for the safety and prosperity of families.
But this year, the performance was more solemn. The local group lost its costumes to the tsunami, so dancers from other districts came to perform on sites where homes once stood.
After the performance, children placed their heads in the mouth of the lion -- a ritual for good luck. Adults prayed to the lion head.
A local community leader said he hopes the performance helped restore the community's bond so the people can work together on reconstruction.

Fukushima coming of age ceremony outside hometown

More than 20 young people who once lived in the no-entry and evacuation zones near Japan's damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant celebrated their 'Coming-of-Age Day' on Monday.
Japanese are legally considered adults when they turn 20, which is when they can vote, smoke, and drink.
People from Katsurao in Fukushima Prefecture are not allowed to go home, so attendees of this year's ceremony gathered in a hotel in Miharu. About 60 percent of Katsurao's population is living in temporary housing in the town. ...

Governments in Japan review disaster prevention
Japan's central and local governments are considering a revision of the current anti-earthquake and tsunami measures following the March 11th disaster and resulting meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The central government's council, which consists of Cabinet members and experts added a section of tsunami prevention measures in December to the basic plan for disaster management.
This year, the central government plans to integrate information on how authorities and the public should respond to nuclear accidents.
It will also reexamine the possibility of changing the laws regulating the roles of the central and local governments when natural disasters hit.
Japan's Meteorological Agency will change the wording for warnings and information on tsunami to make them easier to understand for the public. It aims to implement a new system by the end of the year using the revised phrasing.
An expert panel formed by the Japanese government will disclose its forecast on major earthquakes and tsunamis in the spring. Such natural disasters are likely to happen along a submarine trough located south of Japan's main islands, extending west from the Tokai region.
The panel will compile a revised estimate of damages from the expected huge tremors and waves by summer or fall.
It is likely the new projection will force the central and local governments to reassess where in Japan disaster preparation measures should be enforced.
Authorities may also need to reconsider current designated evacuation areas, as well as systems to distribute necessary information to the public.

Job measure in hardest-hit areas urgently sought
Finding employment is taking on an added urgency for survivors of last year's disaster in northeastern Japan.
More than 1,000 people in three prefectures hardest hit by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami will see their unemployment benefits expire later this month. The figure will rise further in February.
The labor ministry says that as of November more than 64,000 people had received unemployment benefits in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures. The figure is nearly double the previous year's.
The ministry says that of the total, as many as 1,300 people will lose their unemployment benefits by the end of this month, and 2,700 in February.
Survivors seeking stable employment have had trouble finding work. Many jobs in disaster-hit areas are temporary.
Survivors who qualify receive unemployment benefits for at least 10 months. Payments can be extended, depending on an individual's employment situation.

Hosono: Fukushima as center for nuclear safety
Japan's nuclear crisis minister says he wants to make Fukushima Prefecture an international center to promote nuclear safety.
Goshi Hosono spoke Tuesday to NHK and explained a plan to set up an international institute in Fukushima, where specialists would be trained in nuclear safety and advanced radiological medicine would be studied. He says training personnel will be one of the major issues to overcome with respect to nuclear safety.
Hosono says the prefecture will be a relevant venue to learn about the basic principles of nuclear safety, as well as the long process of scrapping the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The work is expected to take 30 to 40 years.
Hosono says he believes lessons learned from the ongoing nuclear crisis, including the use of medicine for people exposed to radiation, must be made available to the rest of the world.
Hosono also notes his ministry will concentrate on the development of robots that will be used to dismantle and dispose of the damaged reactors. The project is expected to rely heavily on robots to remove spent fuel rods and handle other highly radioactive material.
The nuclear crisis minister says he believes Japanese industry will be able to boost their competitiveness by taking advantage of the new technologies that will be developed to deal with the decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

. Radiation Problems - INFO .

New Year fish auction at tsunami-hit Kesennuma
The fish market in Kesennuma northeastern Japan has held its first auction of the New Year. The city in Japan's disaster-hit northeast is a major tuna and swordfish port.
About 200 officials from local fishing cooperatives and marine-product companies attended the inaugural ceremony on Wednesday. They prayed for bumper hauls this year and for success in rebuilding the port.
... The market re-opened last June after the city was reduced to rubble in the March 11th earthquake and tsunami.

Fukushima students back after New Year holidays
Elementary and junior high school students in Fukushima City have returned to class earlier than usual after the New Year break.
Most of the city's schools held ceremonies on Wednesday to mark the beginning of the 3rd term. ...

Disaster-hit sake maker celebrates first brewing
A Japanese sake maker in Iwate Prefecture has celebrated the New Year with its first brew since the March disaster last year.
The 160-year-old brewery in Miyako City restarted production three weeks ago. The factory was rebuilt where the former plant was destroyed by the tsunami.
On Wednesday, the maker finished producing its first sake. Master brewer Katsutoshi Tsujimura checked the aroma and taste.
He said he's happy the new product has the same good qualities as before. He added that he hopes many people will enjoy it.
The newly brewed sake was quickly bottled and served at a New Year's event.

Calligraphy performance in quake-hit city

Schoolgirls in Ofunato City have demonstrated their skill at calligraphy to express hopes for early reconstruction of the region severely hit by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami.
The 7 teenage girls gave a New Year calligraphy performance at a shopping mall on Wednesday.
Dancing to the music of popular pop group AKB48, they took turns writing "Furusato-Kesen" on a large sheet of paper.
They then worked together using a 1.7-meter-long, 15-kilogram brush to write the Chinese character "tamashii," or soul.
The performance was applauded by spectators.

New Year's arrow festival in Nikko
A New Year festival with shooting arrows symbolizing prayers for good health and safety took place at a shrine in Nikko, north of Tokyo, on Wednesday.
The annual ritual at Futarasan Shrine is based on an ancient legend. It's said that a master archer shot an arrow that settled a territorial dispute between the deity of Mount Nantai in Nikko and the divinity of Mount Akagi, about 40 kilometers away to the southwest.
Shinto priests and archers wearing traditional costumes shot 2 arrows each in the direction of Mount Akagi.
The shrine compound was crowded with spectators. Many rushed to where arrows fell to the ground in the hopes of claiming one. It's believed they bring good luck.

Futaba mayor opposes radioactive soil storage
The mayor of Futaba Town in Fukushima Prefecture says he opposes the government's plan to build a facility for storing radioactive waste soil in Futaba County.
Mayor Katsutaka Idogawa expressed for the first time his opposition to the facility in his New Year address to town employees on Wednesday.
The mayor said he cannot accept the facility because townspeople who evacuated would not be able to return once it is built.
The central government officially requested late last month that a temporary storage facility for radioactive waste soil be built in Futaba County. The county has eight municipalities, and it is also home to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The entirety of Futaba Town is designated as a no-entry zone. The residents and the town office have been evacuated to a city in Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo.

NISA pledges to regain public trust
The head of Japan's nuclear safety agency has called for every possible effort to regain public trust in the government's energy policy.
Hiroyuki Fukano said on Wednesday that he is deeply sorry his agency was not able to prevent the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
He said the agency's officials should remember that many Fukushima residents are still displaced from their homes.
Fukano said it is not easy to regain public trust in nuclear safety. He added it has completely been undermined by the accident and the officials must go back to basics.
The government agency, launched 11 years ago, will be united with the Nuclear Safety Commission and merged into a new nuclear safety body in April.
The new body will face many challenges. The agency was heavily criticized in a government report on the nuclear accident released in December.
The report said agency officials working on the emergency task force at the Fukushima plant evacuated in the initial stages of the accident. It also said the agency's collection and release of information was insufficient.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Disasters kick-started dormant volunteer spirit

The March disasters generated an unprecedented outpouring of volunteerism as people from all over Japan pitched in to help the survivors and rebuild affected areas, and the strong spirit of helping will aid relief efforts in future disasters, experts say.

Peace Boat, a Japanese nonprofit organization
Hunger Free World
Japan International Volunteer Center

Tohoku orphans get aid despite donation shortfall

German promotes knitting to keep Tohoku disaster victims active, close
Bernd Kestler, who teaches knitting in Yokohama, from Germany.
Knit for Japan

Year's first auction held at Tsukiji fish market

The first auction of the New Year has been held at Tokyo's Tsukiji market, the biggest wholesale fish market in Japan.
Before the start of Thursday's trade, a vendor said damage from the earthquake and tsunami last March highlighted the seafood industry's dependence on northeastern Japan. He pledged to help revive the disaster zone by selling fish from that area.
The day's auction kicked off at around 5:00 AM.
A 269-kilogram bluefin tuna from Aomori Prefecture fetched a new record high of more than 740,000 dollars.
This was 260,000 dollars higher than the record set last year.
In recent editions of the year's first auction the highest bidders for tuna had mostly been overseas sushi restaurants. But this year's successful bidder was a Japanese sushi chain based in Tsukiji itself.

New nuclear safety agency's performance questioned
The new nuclear safety agency will be tasked with overhauling Japan's nuclear regulations, but has yet to come up with concrete safety rules.
The new agency, which will be launched under the Environmental Ministry in April, faces the challenge of providing supervision and advice to power utilities in the event of an emergency.
The agency will take over the functions of the industry ministry's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. It will also be responsible for the advisory functions of the Cabinet Office's Nuclear Safety Commission.
The new agency is to be staffed with 485 people.
Japan's government has allocated a budget of nearly 650 million dollars for the agency in its financial plan for the next fiscal year, unveiled late last month.
That's up nearly 180 million dollars from this year, a sign that the agency is expected to strengthen crisis management, upgrade its regulations and take on more work.
The government has come under fire for being slow to collect and release existing data after the nuclear accident last March, and for not instructing the operator of the crippled Fukushima plant to prepare for a huge tsunami.
The government says the new body must secure experienced, professional personnel and cultivate a sharper sense of crisis among officials in addressing safety.
A Cabinet Ministry senior official preparing for the launch of the new agency says it must protect the people and the environment.

Municipalities to be prepared for nuke accidents
More than 130 Japanese municipalities are stepping up preparations for nuclear accidents after the government tripled the size of emergency zones around nuclear plants to 30 kilometers.
Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission expanded the size of the zones from 10 kilometers last November.
The move follows the issue of evacuation orders to areas up to 30 km from the stricken Fukushima plant, far beyond the government's initial expectation.
The expansion includes not only communities hosting nuclear power plants but also surrounding areas, multiplying the number of municipalities involved.
These local governments must now boost disaster preparedness by setting evacuation routes and securing shelters.
Many are reaching out beyond prefectural borders with plans to share food and other goods, and dispatch staff in the event of nuclear disasters.
The government almost tripled the funding for nuclear disaster preparedness to 108-million dollars in a budget plan for the next fiscal year.
But further financial help will be needed for the municipalities within the expanded emergency zone.

Fukushima mayors seek help over waste storage
Municipalities around the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant have asked for help from the prefectural government over the central government's plan to temporarily store radioactive waste in the communities.
Representing 8 towns and villages in Futaba County, Tomioka Town Mayor Katsuya Endo made the request when he met Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato on Thursday.
Endo said the municipalities take the state government's proposal seriously but that it is too much of a burden for them to handle alone.
He asked the prefecture to act in coordination with the municipalities and set up a forum for regular meetings, citing the difficulty they face as a result of mass evacuation from their areas following the nuclear accident.
Governor Sato responded positively to the request and promised to create a forum for talks.
The municipalities are divided over the central government's plan on interim storage of radioactive soil and debris. The mayor of Futaba Town, Katsutaka Idogawa, voiced opposition while some other local leaders say they have no choice but to accept it.


Friday, January 6, 2012

We got snow yesterday, but not this morning.

Heavy snow plasters Sea of Japan

Tokyo exodus nuke report's worst scenario
Areas as far as 170 km away from the Fukushima nuclear plant faced the risk of being declared permanent evacuation zones, according to a worst-case scenario at the height of the crisis by the Japan Atomic Energy Commission.

Domestic robots failed to ride to rescue after No. 1 plant blew

(this is a very interesting article ! )

When China rules, Chinese will not set the rules

March earthquake created nearly 7,000 aftershocks
Japan's Meteorological Agency says last March's magnitude 9.0 earthquake was followed by nearly 7,000 aftershocks strong enough to be felt by humans.
The agency says its analysis of seismological data as of the end of last year identified 6,757 such aftershocks since March 11th.
The agency also says that Japan experienced a total of 9,723 earthquakes strong enough to be felt by humans last year.
The number is more than seven times larger than the total for the year before.

Last night a few just below M5

2012年1月6日 19時50分 茨城県沖 4.2
2012年1月6日 9時52分 根室半島南東沖 3.7
2012年1月6日 8時33分 福島県沖 4.6
2012年1月6日 6時01分 茨城県沖 4.4
2012年1月6日 1時51分 宮城県沖 4.9
2012年1月6日 0時26分 宮城県沖 3.4
2012年1月5日 22時17分 福島県中通り 4.1
2012年1月5日 17時49分 福島県沖 3.9

March disaster forced over 500 firms to shut down
More than 500 companies across Japan went bankrupt due to the earthquake and tsunami that hit the country's northeast last March.
Private credit research firm Teikoku Databank says the disaster forced 510 firms to fail in the roughly 10 months through December 31. Their total liabilities stood at 727.3 billion yen, or around 9.4 billion dollars. ...
. . . . . 2011 auto sales in Japan hit lowest in 34 years

Govt to limit life of nuclear reactors to 40 years
The Japanese government wants to pass a new law that limits the life of nuclear reactors to 40 years.
Nuclear crisis minister Goshi Hosono on Friday announced a review of nuclear safety regulations following the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The proposed 40-year limit is included in new draft regulations on nuclear reactors and nuclear fuel material.
According to the draft, the government will not allow reactors to operate for more than 40 years, but may grant extensions on request.
Extensions will be subject to government checks on the obsolescence of the facility, and the plant operator's capacity to provide appropriate maintenance.
This is the first time for the government to try to regulate the lifespan of nuclear plants.
Hosono said the government will also revise safety standards against earthquakes, tsunami and other disasters with new knowledge and technology in protective measures and require power companies to comply with new standards.
The government will submit the legislation to the ordinary session of the Diet by the end of this month at the earliest, ahead of the planned launch of a new nuclear safety agency in April.

Azumi: watching euro's fall carefully
Japan's Finance Minister Jun Azumi says he is carefully monitoring the euro's fall against the yen, and urged eurozone countries to try harder to address their debt problems. ...


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Nuke regulators get teeth via bills
The government aims to legally force nuclear plant operators to take measures against severe crises and follow the latest safety measures.

British 'rakugo' artist helps Tohoku smile

Market network helps community bounce back

NGO uses chocolate to support Fukushima kids
A nongovernmental group that in 2006 launched an annual chocolate-selling campaign to support child cancer patients in Iraq will use a portion of this year's proceeds to help children in Fukushima Prefecture.
Minoru Kamata, chief of the Japan Iraq Medical Network, ...
... The chocolates can be bought at www.jim-net.net


Sunday, January 8, 2012

more minor earthquakes since yesterday
2012年1月8日 6時04分 茨城県沖 4.2
2012年1月8日 2時31分 福島県沖 3.3
2012年1月7日 21時35分 宮城県沖 4.0
2012年1月7日 21時30分 茨城県沖 3.5
2012年1月7日 19時47分 福島県沖 4.6
2012年1月7日 17時22分 福島県沖 4.6
2012年1月7日 10時17分 茨城県沖 4.0

Praying for good health
Every year on January 7th, people across Japan dig into bowls of hot rice porridge to pray for good health in the New Year.
This year, farmers in Fukushima Prefecture offered visitors the traditional rice porridge flavored with 7 spring herbs, but only after making sure it was free of radiation.
A group at a farmer's market in Shirakawa city on Saturday prepared rice porridge in a big pot. The rice and other ingredients were all locally grown.
Fukushima prefecture is still suffering from the aftereffects of the accident at the nuclear power plant last March. But no radiation was detected in the food.
A shopper of her 60s from Shrakawa City said she was happy to taste the traditional food and hoped to stay that way throughout the year.
About 200 visitors enjoyed the hot meal free of charge.

March 11 survivors facing hardships
An NHK survey on people living in a temporary housing complex following the March 11th disaster paints a grim picture.
NHK surveyed about 1,100 families living in a housing complex in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, from October to November. 757 households responded.
47 percent of the households excluding those living on pensions say they had lost their jobs because of the disaster.
29 percent of those who lost jobs are in their 50s followed by 23 percent in their 60s.
34 percent of the jobless households say they are living on less than 100,000 yen, or 1,300 dollars, a month.
67 percent of the self-employed have still not found employment. 21 percent of them say they have no income at all.
In a separate survey, the Japan Research Institute found that up to 120,000 people remain unemployed.
Some 4,000 survivors in Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefectures are expected to lose their unemployment benefits starting this month.
The survivors say job creation is the most pressing issue for them to rebuild their lives and the affected areas.

Over 330 pets rescued from Fukushima no-entry zone

Many pets have been abandoned in the no-entry zone around the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. More than 330 dogs and cats were rescued in December.
The Environment Ministry and Fukushima Prefecture have conducted rescue operations for dogs and cats in the no-entry zone. The animals were left there because, either their owners died in the March 11th disaster, or they could not take them to evacuation shelters.
... Several hundred more pets are believed to be in need of rescue. The ministry plans to continue the operations after observing the situation in the no-entry zone.

4,000 buildings designated as tsunami shelters
A survey has found that Japanese municipalities designated around 4,000 buildings to serve as tsunami shelters as of October of last year, with the number doubling in the few months after the March 2011 disaster.
The Cabinet Office and land ministry conducted the survey of coastal prefectures, excluding the hardest-hit Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima, on buildings designated as emergency shelters in the event of a tsunami.
The results were compared with those of the previous survey carried out 4 months earlier in June.
Among more than 1,100 buildings examined in June, nearly 18 percent have never been assessed for quake resistance based on 1981 guidelines, leading to concern about their structural strength. .....


Monday, January 9, 2012

. . . . . at 7:13
Earthquake M 5.0 - off the coast of Iwate

Prepare for decontamination
Decontamination — financed with government money — of areas contaminated with radioactive substances released by Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant will start this year.

Japan to install tsunami monitoring system at sea
The Japanese government will install a large scale tsunami monitoring system on the Pacific seabed to speed up it's warning process.
The education and science ministry plans to install an underwater cable near the Nippon Trench in the Pacific Ocean, seismometers on the seabed, and underwater tsunami detectors using hydraulic pressure sensors.
Seismometers and tsunami detectors will be installed by March 2013 in waters off the Boso Peninsula and the Sanriku Coast. The locations are north and south of the focus of the major earthquake that hit wide areas of northeastern Japan last year. Additional monitors will be put in place off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture and near the Nippon Trench, close to the focus of the 2011 earthquake.
A total of 150 locations will be positioned by March 2015.
Separately, the Meteorological Agency will install seismometers at 3 locations in waters about 400 kilometers off the northeastern coast some time this year. The data of the seismometers will be collected by satellites and will be used to detect a massive earthquake that is expected to occur east of the Nippon trench in the Pacific Ocean.
The data will help the Meteorological Agency release tsunami information or warnings.
Akira Nagai, the chief of the agency's tsunami monitoring division, said these systems will help the agency gather necessary data as they can monitor tsunami closer as they occur.
During the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Japan's Meteorological Agency was able to monitor tsunami waves before they reached the Japanese coast, because of underwater global positioning systems off northeastern Japan.

Noda wants temporary storage facility in Fukushima
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has asked the governor of Fukushima to allow the government to build a facility in the prefecture to temporarily store radioactive soil. Noda visited a disaster-hit area for the first time this year and met Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato at the prefectural office on Sunday.
Noda said the fight is not over yet, even though he declared last month that the Fukushima Daiichi reactors had reached a state of cold shutdown -- the second phase in the program to bring the plant under control.
He said the government will intensify its efforts to deal with decontamination, compensation and health management issues.
Noda asked Sato to consider the request that Environment Minister Goshi Hosono made late last year to have a storage facility built in Futaba County.
Sato said he would like the government to remember that many people from Fukushima were unable to celebrate the New Year in their hometowns.
He said children are the future of Fukushima and their health must be protected. He urged Noda to provide free medical services to all Fukushima residents under the age of 19.
Sato said the damage caused by the accident was so severe that it had seriously undermined confidence in the government's nuclear policy.
He asked Noda to shut down and dismantle all 10 reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi and Fukushima Daini plants as called for in the reconstruction plan.

Noda hopes to restore healthcare in disaster zone
Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda says he hopes to restore healthcare in areas affected by the March 11th disaster and the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Noda visited a private hospital in Minamisoma City, Fukushima Prefecture, on Sunday.
The hospital is 24 kilometers from the damaged plant. ...

Japan to launch new energy policy by summer
Japan is scheduled to launch a new energy policy by summer. The plan is expected to feature less dependency on nuclear power generation and liberalized utility fees for households.
The government is conducting a thorough review of the country's energy policy in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear crisis last March. On the agenda are a reduction of the nation's dependence on nuclear power generation, and a possible separation of power generation and distribution. ...

Govt to create disaster-aid inventory database
The Japanese government will launch a national database of food and other goods to enable speedy aid distribution in times of disaster.
The government is drawing lessons from last year's March disaster, when it took considerable time and trouble to secure urgently-needed supplies.
The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry believes the problem occurred due to its poor grasp of commercial stocks of food and daily supplies. ...

Ishinomaki fire brigade mourns comrades
A fire brigade in tsunami-hit Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture has dedicated its New Year ceremony to members who perished in the March 11th disaster.
The ceremony on Monday began with a moment of silence for the 27 members who were killed while leading residents to safety and in other courses of duty.
The community brigade had 2,300 members at the time of the disaster. ...


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Monju operator paid 109 million yen in 'member fees' to related entities
The Japan Atomic Energy Agency paid 109 million yen in "membership fees" to various bodies in 2009, raising suspicions that tax money for financing the experimental Monju reactor was abused.

Experts developing disaster awareness video book - NHK
A group of experts in Japan is developing a digital book to help people better prepare for natural disasters. The devastating earthquake and tsunami last March led to the project's creation.
The visual effects experts and disaster prevention researchers are developing the book for tablet computers.
They will use videos of the March 11th disaster, erupting volcanoes, and typhoons. A quiz and advice on evacuation will be superimposed. ...

Tokyo Fire Dept adding extra radiation squad
The Tokyo Fire Department plans to introduce a second unit specializing in radiological disasters, following the nuclear accident in Fukushima.
Tokyo's Fire Department currently has 4 special units for disaster-response and rescue activities.
One of them is trained to handle radioactive and chemical substances. It was sent last March to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to measure radiation and spray water into one of the disabled reactors.
This special unit's deployment to Fukushima left no one able to deal with a possible emergency in Tokyo. To address the gap, the city's Fire Department decided to launch a second unit with the same expertise. ...

KDDI to begin e-mail tsunami warning service
Japanese telecom firm KDDI will begin providing texted tsunami warnings to its mobile phone subscribers.
Japan's Meteorological Agency issued tsunami warnings across eastern Japan soon after the huge March 11th earthquake. But power cuts knocked out TV and public radio systems so the alerts failed to reach many.
KDDI will begin sending out evacuation advisories from local government to some mobile phone subscribers at the end of this month. This service will be expanded at the end of March to include tsunami warnings.


Remember March 11, 2011

. January 11, Remember March 11 .

until January 20


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Qatar Japan 2012 - Celebrating 40 Years of Friendship!
The year 2012 marks the 40th year of diplomatic relations between Qatar and Japan. Qatar-Japan 2012 is a year of fantastic cultural, educational, and sporting activities in celebration of this significant milestone. The events are designed to explore the unique cultures of both nations and showcase the shared interests of their people.
source : qatarjapan2012.com

There is an article in the Japan Times today (I still have to locate it)
about financing the exchange from children of Tsunami Tohoku to the village of Yubari in Hokkaido, for some holiday fun.
It reads like a great private initiative to help Tohoku.

Edano: Tainted cement on Tepco tab

3/11 memorial to be held in Tokyo

Tepco may be run by outside directors

Kansai Electric facing heavy loss

Quake shrinks Tokyo condo supply

Industry seeks background to new nuke plant limit
The head of the organization representing Japan's power suppliers says he will ask the government to clarify the scientific rationale for setting a 40-year operations limit on all nuclear reactors in the country.
Makoto Yagi, chairman of the Federation of Electric Power Companies, made the remarks on Friday.
He was referring to the Japanese government's proposal to impose the 40-year limit on the lifespan of nuclear power plants, with extensions of up to 20 years possibly available on a one-time-only basis.
Yagi said the design of any such system should be rational and scientific.
He said he will seek an explanation from the government on how the restrictions have been set. Yagi, also president of Kansai Electric, said he will do his best to restart the No 3 and No 4 reactors at the utility's Ohi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture.
The government's Nuclear and Industry Safety Agency earlier evaluated the results of stress tests on the 2 Ohi reactors as appropriate, paving the way for restarting the idle reactors.
The final decision to resume operations at nuclear plants is in the hands of central government.
However, the Fukui prefectural government says it will not allow the reactors to return to service unless Tokyo comes up with new safety measures after examining closely the cause of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Hosono explains decontamination steps for Fukushima
Japan's Environment Minister Goshi Hosono says the government will step up its efforts to remove radioactive materials from areas near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
In a ceremony to mark the opening of the ministry's new office in Fukushima City, Hosono said the government plans to set up 5 branches of the office in Fukushima Prefecture and increase the number of staff from the current 69 to 200 in April.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cabinet kept alarming nuke report secret
The government buried a worst-case scenario for the Fukushima nuclear crisis that was drafted last March and kept it under wraps until the end of December, sources in the administration say.

State takeover of Tepco could last at least 10 years
Tokyo Electric would be effectively nationalized for at least a decade under a plan being considered by the entity funding its nuclear disaster compensation.

Protesting nuclear power !!!

Misogi ritual takes place in tsunami-hit Kamaishi
A group of eight men walked into the cold ocean waters off tsunami-hit Kamaishi City in Iwate Prefecture on Saturday as part of a purification ritual.
A shrine in the neighboring town of Otsuchi holds the event on the coldest day of the year according to the traditional Japanese calendar.
But as the breakwater in Otsuchi was damaged by tsunami and is no longer safe, the venue this year was moved to Kamaishi.

Contaminated crushed stone found in more houses
More buildings containing crushed stone contaminated with radioactive substances have been found in Fukushima Prefecture.
It is believed that the crushed stone used in concrete was contaminated by the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March last year.
The stone comes from a quarry in Namie Town, which was designated as an evacuation zone following the accident.
Earlier this week, high levels of radioactivity were detected in a new apartment building in Nihonmatsu City. ...

Kan to speak in Davos on nuclear plant safety
Japan's former prime minister Naoto Kan will stress the importance of safety measures at nuclear power plants when he makes a speech at the World Economic Forum on Thursday.
The annual economic forum, to be held from Wednesday to Sunday in Davos, Switzerland, will have a session focusing on the March 11th disaster in northeast Japan.
In the session on Thursday, the former prime minister will talk about safety issues at nuclear power plants, based on his experiences over the failed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Kan will urge that all the nuclear plants in operation should be equipped with multiple backup power supply. At the Fukushima plant, the loss of all power for a long time exacerbated the situation.
Kan is also expected to call for international cooperation on the development of energy-saving technology and use of renewable energy, citing the need to bring about a world not dependent on nuclear power.

No records of nuclear disaster taskforce meetings
It has been revealed that the government's nuclear disaster taskforce did not keep any records of its meetings after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident.
Experts say this is a significant loss, as the minutes could help to prevent mistakes from being repeated.
The taskforce, headed by the prime minister and including all the Cabinet members, was launched on the day of the accident on March 11th last year.
It made important decisions, including the designation of evacuation areas, basic policies on decontamination and restrictions on the shipment of agricultural produce. ...


Monday, January 23, 2012

. . . . . at 20:45
Earthquake M 5.1 off Fukushima
It was felt as 1 from Aomori to Shizuoka !

Off-clock radiation exposure ignored - TEPCO

10,000 people to claim more payouts from TEPCO - NHK

Around 10,000 people from an area in a no-entry zone around the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are preparing to file suit to seek more compensation from the Tokyo Electric Power Company.
Recently, residents of the Odaka district in Minamisoma City, Fukushima Prefecture decided to file a class-action suit with the governmental organization set up to mediate disputes with TEPCO for damages.
They insist the current payment from the utility is insufficient.

School board apologizes for tsunami deaths

The education board in Ishinomaki City, northeastern Japan has admitted responsibility and apologized for the large number of deaths among students at the Okawa Elementary School in last year's tsunami.
70 of the school's 108 students were killed in the March 11th disaster and 4 remain missing.
The education board had provided differing accounts of the situation at 2 previous briefing sessions for parents. It had only taken limited questions, drawing criticism from parents. ...

IAEA checks Japan's nuclear safety test results
The world's nuclear watchdog has begun reviewing the safety test results for 2 of Japan's halted nuclear reactors.
The team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency started their 9-day inspection on Monday. They will advise the Japanese government if the test results and the method used were appropriate.
Ninety percent of Japan's nuclear reactors are offline due to concerns that they could be vulnerable to major earthquakes and tsunami. Passing the safety checks is a prerequisite for the idled reactors to resume operation.
The team will examine if the computer-simulated tests for 2 reactors at the Ohi nuclear plant in Central Japan were carried out appropriately in line with international standards. ...

Govt to compile record of nuke crisis responses
Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura says the government hopes to record how it came up with policies to deal with the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
Fujimura made the comment on Monday after it was found that the government's taskforce failed to keep any records of its responses to the accident on March 11th.
The taskforce of Cabinet ministers headed by the prime minister was set up on that day. It made policy decisions on the designation of evacuation areas and decontamination. ...

US to give dogwood to Japan's disaster-hit areas
The United States plans to present 3,000 dogwood seedlings this spring to Japan's northeast as another symbol of the 2 allies' friendship. The area was hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami last March.
In 1912, then Tokyo mayor Yukio Ozaki gave the United States 3,000 cherry tree saplings. They were later planted along the Potomac River in Washington DC.

Antarctic research ship gives up reaching base
The Japanese icebreaker Shirase has given up trying to get any closer to the country's Antarctic research base due to impassable ice and snow.
The science ministry said on Monday that the vessel is now 21 kilometers from Japan's Showa Station in Antarctica and cannot advance further. ...

Govt drafts new safety steps for nuclear plants
The Japanese government is calling on local authorities near nuclear power plants to come up with new measures to prepare for possible nuclear accidents.
The government made the request on Monday at a briefing for about 100 local officials on its new draft measures for nuclear accidents. The existing measures have been under review since the accident in Fukushima.
The minister in charge of the nuclear crisis, Goshi Hosono, said the government has renewed its pledge to prevent accidents. He asked the participants to work with the government in drafting new disaster management plans and safety regulations. ...


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New 'Big One' forecast: four years

The risk of Tokyo and southern Kanto being hit by a major temblor is about 70 percent in the next four years, says a new study from the University of Tokyo.

Tohoku job market harder on women
Women are facing greater difficulty than men in finding jobs in the most damaged parts of the Tohoku region, a labor ministry survey says.

Tainted stone tied to 60 buildings so far

Another nuclear reactor going offline
Tokyo Electric Power Company plans to shut down a reactor in Niigata Prefecture, central Japan, for a regular inspection on Wednesday. This means 93% of Japan's nuclear reactors will be out of service.
When TEPCO shuts down the No.5 reactor of the Kashiwazaki-kariwa nuclear plant, its No.6 will be the only active reactor proiding power to the Tokyo metropolitan area.
All of TEPCO's nuclear power plants in Fukushima Prefecture are out of service due to the accident at Fukushima Daiichi. The others in the region are undergoing repairs or regular checkups. ...
From Wednesday, 50 of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors will be inactive.

Reconstruction agency to be set up on Feb 10
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda says the agency to oversee the reconstruction of areas damaged by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami will be launched on February 10th.
Noda stressed at a cabinet taskforce meeting that the new government arm should provide "one-stop service" to disaster-hit municipalities.
He said the agency must play an authoritative role in the rebuilding efforts, and urged the ministers to be fully prepared to support the agency. ...

Radioactive release from Fukushima plant rises
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says the amount of radioactive substances being released from the plant has risen slightly. It attributes the rise to increased human activities onsite.
Tokyo Electric has been measuring the levels of radioactive substances released from damaged reactors at the plant since the accident in March.
The level measured onsite was 800-trillion becquerels per hour immediately after the accident.
Readings continued to decline, and in November and December dropped to 60 million becquerels per hour. That is about one 13 millionth the initial level.
But the company says the levels were slightly up to 70 million becquerels per hour in January.
The company says that radioactive materials around the No. 2 reactor, the surrounding of which is still highly contaminated, were stirred up by a number of workers going in and out of the building.
They were working to insert an optical fiberscope into the containment vessel as an initial step toward decommissioning the reactor.

10% sales tax not enough to attain fiscal health
Japan's government says it may not be able to meet its goal of balancing the budget by 2020, even if it doubles the consumption tax rate to 10 percent by 2015.
The government released its long-term financial forecast on Tuesday.
It shows that the deficit of the country's primary balance will exceed 16 trillion yen, or 210 billion dollars, in fiscal 2020. ...


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The coldest morning so far, minus 5 in my valley.

Tokyo wakes up to snow, traffic snarl


Tepco down to one operating nuclear reactor

93% of Japan's nuclear reactors offline - NHK
Tokyo Electric Power Company shut down a reactor in Niigata Prefecture, central Japan, on Wednesday for a regular inspection. Fifty of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors, or 93 percent, are now out of service.
The No.5 reactor of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant stopped operating on Wednesday morning.
The plant's No.6 reactor is now the only one providing power to the Tokyo metropolitan area.
TEPCO's nuclear plants in Fukushima Prefecture are all offline after last year's accident at Fukushima Daiichi.
TEPCO will boost the capacity of its thermal power plants and ask companies and households to voluntarily save electricity. ...

Nuclear plants to prepare for faults 5km away
Japan's nuclear safety agency will instruct utilities nationwide to reassess the earthquake resistance of their nuclear power plants to comply with stricter new standards.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says utilities should prepare for fault movements that take place 5 kilometers or more from the plants.
The agency will also ask utilities to prepare for an earthquake stronger than the maximum ever recorded in the vicinity of their nuclear facilities.
Officials will continue to refine the quake-resistance standards for nuclear plants after soliciting more opinions from experts.
The new policy follows recent findings by seismologists. The agency says a magnitude 7 earthquake that struck Fukushima Prefecture in April last year resulted in the movement of a fault that was thought to be inactive. The fault is located about 50 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The agency added that the active fault could have been found earlier if drilling or other surveys had been conducted.

Fukushima panel to finalize report by late July
A government panel says it will finalize by late July its report on the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The 9-member panel held a closed-door meeting on Wednesday, the first since it released an interim report in December.
Panel leader Yotaro Hatamura told reporters afterwards that the final report will cover items that were not mentioned in the previous one.
He said the panel will conduct hearings with those who were cabinet ministers at the time of the accident to investigate the government's decision-making process.
The panel will also report on measures taken at the nearby Fukushima Daini plant after the March earthquake and tsunami.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Still colder than yesterday !
Snow forecast in cm :

source : NHK weather

- - - - - at 5:26
Earthquake M 4.6, off Ibaraki

- - - - - at 5:47
Earthquake M 5.1, off Miyagi
Felt as 1 from Aomori to Chiba.

Nation logs its first trade deficit since 1980
Japan suffered its first trade deficit in over three decades in 2011, a year that saw natural disasters and a nuclear crisis, a historic rise in the yen and a sharp drop-off in global demand stemming from the European financial crisis.

Radioactive gravel tied to more prefabs
It is highly likely that radiation-tainted gravel quarried near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant was used to build three temporary housing complexes in Fukushima Prefecture, sources say.

Photos found in tsunami aftermath displayed

Asian quest for energy security
East Asia's three top industrial powers, all heavily dependent on imports of Middle East oil, have moved quickly to try to secure their supplies as the West tightens sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.
China, Japan and South Korea sent ministers to Arab oil-exporting neighbors of Iran earlier this month to check whether alternative supplies to fuel their economies and transport systems would be available in case Iranian oil sales are curtailed.

Another reactor to be shut down for inspection NHK
The operator of a nuclear power plant in Shimane Prefecture, western Japan, says it will shut down another reactor for regular inspections. The decision means that 51 of Japan's 54 reactors - 94 percent - will be offline.
The Chugoku Electric Power Company says it will begin Thursday evening shutting down reactor-2 of its Shimane power plant. The work is scheduled to be completed early Friday morning.
The plant's only other reactor is already offline for regular checkups. With the addition of the ongoing shutdown, all the nuclear power plants run by the company will be suspended.
... All 54 reactors in Japan will be offline by late April if there are no restarts before then.

IAEA inspects Ohi nuclear plant
A team of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors has observed a tsunami drill at a nuclear power plant along the Japan Sea coast.
The 10-member team visited the Ohi plant in Fukui Prefecture on Thursday to assess safety measures of the operator, Kansai Electric Power Company.
The utility carried out a drill based on a scenario in which a tsunami cuts the plant off from its outer power supply. Such an outage took place at the Fukushima Daiichi plant last March. ...

Fukushima decontamination plan worked out
Japan's Environment Ministry has compiled a 2-year plan to complete decontamination of some evacuation zones around the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The ministry said on Thursday that the plan is part of an effort to allow evacuees to soon return home from the government's exclusion zone and another mandatory evacuation zone covering 11 municipalities.
A deadline of March 2014 is set for areas with radiation levels up to 50 millisieverts a year.
The ministry says the plan puts top priority on schools, parks and other facilities for children, as well as hospitals and fire departments.
The ministry hopes to finalize the schedule by March after consultations with the municipalities.
For areas with radiation levels above 50 millisieverts a year, the ministry says it will implement decontamination model projects to decide how to handle the issue.


Friday, January 27, 2012

. . . . . at 10:09
Earthquake M 4.8 - off Miyagi

. . . . . at 13:19
Earthquake M 5.1 - off Chiba

. . . . . at 14:27
Earthquake M 4.4 - off Chiba

MORIOKA, Iwate Prefecture
Well-known authors and celebrities provided inspirational messages for a booklet to encourage high school students in Iwate Prefecture affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.


Freedom of press hurt by nuclear crisis: group
Freedom of the press fell in Japan last year as "excessive restrictions" on reporting during the Fukushima nuclear crisis dragged its ranking down to 22nd in the world.

IAEA team inspects two idled reactors at Kepco's Oi plant

94% of Japan's nuclear reactors offline
A nuclear reactor has been shut down for regular inspections in Shimane Prefecture, western Japan. This leaves only 3 of Japan's 54 reactors in commercial operation.
The Chugoku Electric Power Company halted the No.2 reactor at the Shimane nuclear plant on Friday morning.
The No.1 reactor is currently undergoing regular inspections. The operator is also conducting safety tests on the reactors, a prerequisite for deciding whether they can be restarted. ...

TEPCO studying joint natural gas procurement
Tokyo Electric Power Company is studying the possibility of jointly procuring natural gas with other electricity and gas suppliers.
The goal would be to curb the rise of fuel costs for thermal power plants.
TEPCO estimates that its fuel costs will increase by more than 800 billion yen, or around 10.3 billion dollars, in the current fiscal year through March. The rise stems from the suspension of nuclear plant operations following the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which TEPCO runs. ...

Fukushima mayors frustrated with slow compensation
Mayors in Fukushima Prefecture are voicing frustration over the slow pace of compensation payments for the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
Twelve mayors on Friday met with a government panel drafting compensation guidelines.
The mayors' municipalities are designated as evacuation zones due to high levels of radiation from the plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company.
Okuma Town Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe asked the panel to quickly finalize the guidelines so that evacuees who cannot return home for many years can start new lives.
Panel chief Yoshihisa Nomi said the utility has so far paid monthly redress, on the assumption evacuees will be able to return home. He said the panel may consider lump sum payments for people who may have to wait 20 years to go home. ...

Quake and strong yen dent car sales in 2011
Auto production in Japan fell by more than 1 million units last year due to local and overseas disasters, and the strong yen.
Figures released by Japan's 8 major carmakers on Friday show a drop in output of 13 percent, or 1.2 million units from the previous year. The firms built less than 8 million vehicles domestically in 2011. ...


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Summer power curbs said unlikely

Curbs on power use may not be necessary next summer even if all 54 of Japan's commercial nuclear reactors are suspended by then, trade minister Yukio Edano says.

Nuclear foes defy order to remove tents from the grounds of METI
Antinuclear activists camping out at the industry ministry ignore an order to take down their tents, and hundreds of people turn out at the ministry to show their support for the protesters.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

. . . . . at 16:46
Earthquake M 4.7, Yamanashi, five lakes around Mt. Fuji
2012年1月29日 0時02分 - 2.9
2012年1月29日 0時23分 - 2.2
2012年1月29日 15時20分 - 2.9
2012年1月29日 16時51分 - 4.7
2012年1月29日 17時41分 - 2.9
2012年1月29日 17時46分 - 3.2
2012年1月29日 18時31分 - 2.3
2012年1月29日 18時43分 - 2.9
2012年1月29日 20時44分 - 2.6

(there have been quite a few minor earthquakes in this region today !)

Active 200-km fault found off Honshu's Kii Peninsula
A team from the University of Tokyo finds an active fault line around 200 km long off Honshu's coast that probably produced some of Japan's largest earthquakes.

State won't fund free medical care in Fukushima
The government will not pay for free medical care to be provided to people aged 18 and younger in Fukushima Prefecture, reconstruction minister Tatsuo Hirano announces.

Gov to purchase new cesium detection equipment

Japan's health ministry will subsidize half the cost of installing highly sensitive radioactive cesium detectors in an effort to strengthen food safety standards nationwide.
Subsidies will be distributed to local governments around the country and tougher safety standards will take effect in April.
Under the new safety standards, general food products will be allowed to contain 100 becquerels of cesium per kilogram, an 80% reduction from the current permissible level.
Baby food and milk will be allowed to contain 50 becquerels and drinking water just 10 becquerels.
The guidelines state if a conventional test detects half the radiation safety level in any food item, then that item should be subject to a stricter screening method.
The health ministry decided that more sensitive equipment is needed, which can detect levels as low as 25 becquerels of cesium.
Some of the devices currently installed in local government offices are unable to measure low levels of cesium or are too slow at taking measurements.

Radiation study of wildlife planned in Fukushima
Japan will launch a comprehensive study to monitor the impact of radiation exposure on wild animals and plants around the damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima.
Fukushima Prefecture requested the study, which will be conducted by the Environment Ministry with the cooperation of the National Institute of Radiological Sciences.
Levels of radioactive cesium in wildlife will be tested at 25 locations, both at land and sea. The proposed testing sites include places with high levels of radiation and areas with less radiation for comparison purposes.
The species to be studied include Japanese red pine and bristlegrass, as well as rats, frogs, and mussels.
They were picked from species designated by the International Commission on Radiological Protection, an organization which deals with effects linked to exposure to radiation.
Collection of some species has already begun. Researchers will check plant and animal appearance, chromosomes, and reproductive function for the influence of any radioactivity from the damaged plant.
The rate of germination of seeds will also be studied.
The ministry suggests that the study would have to take into account the effects of weather and other factors on the growth of wildlife. But it says it hopes to provide new insights by accumulating a sizable amount of data.
The ministry plans to compile an interim report by March 2013.

Giant fault to magnify tsunami found in west Japan

Scientists have found a 200-kilometer-long cliff on the seabed off Kii Peninsula, western Japan. They warn it could magnify the scale of tsunami in the event of a major earthquake.
A team of researchers from University of Tokyo and Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology found the giant fault using a deep-sea research vessel.
They say the underwater cliff crosses neighboring focal zones for major earthquakes that periodically hit western Japan.
The 200-kilometer-long drop-off is up to 1,000 meters tall. . . .


Monday, January 30, 2012

Hosono urges towns to aid disposal effort

Frozen water blamed for leaks at Fukushima plant
Tokyo Electric Power Company has found water leaks in 14 locations at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The utility says the leaks apparently occurred after frozen water ruptured the pipes and the leaked water did not contain any radioactive materials.
Tokyo Electric said about 40 liters of water leaked from a cooling system for a spent fuel pool at the No.4 reactor on Sunday, but the flow stopped when workers closed the valve.
The company said the leak forced the system to stop for one hour and 40 minutes, but the pool's temperature did not rise.Tokyo Electric said 7 tons of water had leaked from the No.6 reactor.
The temperature fell to minus 8 degrees Celsius on Sunday morning near the damaged plant.
Ruptured pipes caused 3 water leaks on the previous day.
Tokyo Electric official Junichi Matsumoto admitted that the utility failed to take sufficient steps to prevent frozen pipes. He said it will take quick action to protect the pipes from the cold weather.

TEPCO ordered to prevent water leaks at reactors

Japan's nuclear safety agency has instructed the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to prevent water leaks at the plant.
The move follows the discovery of water leaks on Sunday in 14 locations at the damaged plant.
Tokyo Electric Power Company says about 40 liters of water leaked from a cooling system for a spent fuel pool at the No. 4 reactor, forcing the system to stop for one hour and 40 minutes. The utility also says that 7 tons of water leaked from the No. 6 reactor.
The company says that the leakages apparently occurred after frozen water in pipes loosened the pipes' connections or broke some parts. The company adds that the leaked water did not contain radioactive materials or had already been processed to remove them.
Similar water leaks occurred in 3 locations at the plant on the previous day.
Responding to the agency's call for preventive measures, TEPCO has decided to conduct frequent checks on early mornings when temperatures often drop below zero and protect pipes from the cold with insulation materials or heaters, if necessary.
The utility says measures are already in place to protect critical systems, such as those used for cooling reactors.

More water leaks found at Fukushima nuclear plant
More water leaks have been found at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Tokyo Electric Power Company told reporters on Monday morning that it has discovered 2 additional water leaks at the nuclear plant.
This comes after it was announced on Sunday that nearly 8 tons of water was found to have leaked in 14 locations at the plant.
One of the 2 new findings involves about 30 liters of water that has leaked from a device that is removing salt from contaminated water. The other leak is from a valve of a pipe that is injecting water into a reactor.
TEPCO says leaked water has neither spilled out of the plant, nor flowed into the sea.
The utility firm is trying to determine whether water in some of the pipes froze and cracked the pipes, or loosened the pipes' connections.
It plans to quickly implement preventive measures, including carrying out more patrols early in the morning and wrapping insulation around the pipes and other equipment.
The temperature on Monday morning around the plant dropped to minus 8.7 degrees Celsius.

Hiroshima Atom Bomb Dome undergoing check
The Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima is undergoing an inspection to check for possible deterioration from age.
Hiroshima City has been conducting the survey every 3 years since 1992 to check for damage on the walls and the degree of the dome's tilt. The dome was heavily damaged by the 1945 atomic bombing, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The dome was built in 1915 and was originally known as the Industrial Promotion Hall.
The inspection was opened to the media on Monday after scaffolding was erected around the building.

Japan-made robots ready for Fukushima mission

Japanese researchers have completed the development of 2 new robots for work at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The robots, built by researchers at Chiba Institute of Technology and other organizations, will succeed Japan's first and sole domestic robot that has been used at the damaged reactor buildings since the nuclear crisis began in March 2011.
The first model began its mission at the power plant in June to measure radioactivity inside buildings and take video footage. But, in October, the device got stuck after becoming tangled in cables. . . . . . One of the 2 robots is equipped with a new device that allows more accurate measurements of radiation levels. The other carries a new scanner to measure 3-dimensional space.
The 2 robots will be deployed at the Fukushima power plant by mid-March.

Exxon Mobil to downsize Japan operations

US oil giant Exxon Mobil is downsizing its business in Japan.
The growing popularity of fuel-efficient vehicles and the decreasing number of cars is slowing down demand for gasoline in the country.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Another cold wave over Japan.
Incredible amounts of snow for the coastline of Nihonkai.

Fukushima No. 1 pipes freeze, leak
Two more water leaks are found at the crippled Fukushima power plant after 14 others linked to freezing weather halted cooling of a spent-fuel pool.
(Imagine these engineers, not thinking about winter temperatures . . .)

Upgraded Quince robots ready for second foray
New robots for exploring the radiation-tainted Fukushima plant are ready for action, three months after an older version got stuck inside.

Cyber-attack disrupts website of nuclear crisis panel

Population in Tohoku declines
The 3 Japanese prefectures hit hard by the March 11th disaster experienced a net decline in population of more than 40,000 people.
The internal affairs ministry announced on Monday the result of last year's demographic survey conducted in the northeastern prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima.
Statistics show that 129,385 people moved out of the prefectures, while 88,159 moved in, resulting in a net decline of 41,226.
The population in the area has decreased more than 40,000 for the first time since 1970.
Fukushima Prefecture lost a net 31,381 people, the worst among the 3 prefectures.
The ministry says the figure shows that many people left Fukushima Prefecture following the earthquake and tsunami and the accident at the nuclear power plant.

Scientists warn of huge quake east of Japan Trench
Japanese researchers say the March 11th disaster has increased the risk of a major quake and tsunami east of the Japan Trench off northeastern Japan.
The research was carried out by a group at the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology.
The Japan Trench is where the Pacific Plate begins to sink under the tectonic plate extending from land.
The March 11th earthquake originated closer to land from the plate boundary.
The research group installed 20 seismometers on the seabed east of the Japan Trench to analyze aftershocks that occurred between late April and early July last year.
The data showed that the March quake apparently changed the dynamic force deep inside the Pacific Plate. . . .
maybe also Mount Fuji will erupt ?

Govt plans Fukushima decontamination test-run
Japan's Environment Ministry has unveiled a model project designed to decontaminate areas with high levels of radiation around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
In a test-run for a wider clean-up, the ministry will first try to decontaminate 3 closed sections of a national expressway running through the no-entry zone near the plant.
The ministry last week announced a 2-year plan to decontaminate by March 2014 some evacuation zones where radiation levels have dropped below 50 millisieverts per year.
Radiation levels over a total 5 kilometers of expressway slated for the new project have ranged from a little to substantially above 50 millisieverts a year.
The ministry plans to assess the project's effectiveness in a test-run from the middle of March through July.

Tsunami alerts to be revised
Japan's Meteorological Agency has come up with new guidelines for issuing tsunami alerts after an earthquake.
Following the massive earthquake that hit northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, the emergency alerts issued to the public underestimated the possible tsunami height.
A panel of tsunami and disaster prevention experts compiled the revised guidelines at its final meeting in Tokyo on Tuesday.
The new guidelines call for the Meteorological Agency to simplify the predicted heights of tsunamis from the current 8 levels to 5. The new levels measured in meters are 1, 3, 5, 10 and over 10 meters.
If an earthquake's strength is not immediately known, the guidelines call for weather officials to issue a maximum alert without a numerical tsunami height prediction.
Such alerts will describe the possible tsunami either as giant or high, and urge people to immediately take shelter or evacuate.
The Meteorological Agency intends to put the new guidelines in place by the end of the year.

IAEA endorses nuclear stress test oversight
International nuclear inspectors say the way Japan's nuclear agency has been overseeing safety tests at idled reactors is in line with international standards.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency's inspection team James Lyons submitted a report to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency's Director General, Hiroyuki Fukano, on Tuesday.
The report notes that Japan's agency has been making on-site visits to reactors and disclosing the evaluation process.
It says as the regulator overseeing the stress tests, the agency's assessment of procedures carried out by power companies was appropriate. ...
Govt okays bill for new nuclear regulatory agency
Japan's government has approved a bill to launch a new nuclear safety regulator in the wake of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
The bill, endorsed at Tuesday's cabinet meeting, calls for the new agency to be created in April as an outside body of the Environment Ministry.
The aim is to strengthen safety controls and unify supervision of nuclear power generation. ...
The government's legislation also stipulates for the first time that the operating life of a nuclear reactor be limited to 40 years.
One-time extensions of 20 years at most would be possible, but only in rare and exceptional cases.

Cranes heading for north

In a signal that spring is on its way, cranes have begun flying to the north, after wintering in Japan.
More than 13,000 cranes have been in Izumi Plains, in the southwestern prefecture of Kagoshima, since last October. The area is the largest wintering district for cranes in Japan.
On Monday morning, a lead group of 17 white-necked cranes took off. They were followed by one group after another, all winging their way toward northern regions, including Siberia. The departure was 2 days earlier than last year. Groups of cranes will continue to take off on their journey north until April.
No bird flu has been detected among the cranes this winter. But the prefecture's association for crane protection will continue to observe the birds closely until April.
Severe cold weather and heavy snowfall continues to prevail in wider parts of Japan, but the birds seem to be saying that spring is around corner.

Kawauchi village to return home in April
The mayor of a village near the troubled Fukushima nuclear power plant has announced a schedule to start bringing home all evacuees in April.
Mayor Yuko Endo of Kawauchi Village visited Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato on Tuesday to explain the schedule for reopening the village's office, elementary and junior high schools and a child-care center at their original locations in April.
They were shut down following the catastrophic nuclear accident in March last year and all of the village's population of about 3000 was forced to evacuate as the entire area was situated in an evacuation zone.
In September, part of the village was declared safe for them to return. But only about 200 people, or 7 percent of the total, have returned home, due to a lack of jobs and a delay in the decontamination of radioactive materials.
The mayor says that he wants to pave the way for as many residents as possible to return home.
The nuclear accident forced the wholesale evacuation of 9 municipalities in Fukushima, including their local governments. Kawauchi will be the first to return home.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told a news conference that Kawauchi Village has now taken the first step forward in its efforts to bring everyone back home.
He said the government will speed up its work to decontaminate the village and provide other support.

Rock band to tell the world about 3.11 disaster

A Japanese-Canadian rock band has been named an envoy to tell the world how Japan is recovering from last year's earthquake and tsunami.
Japan's Foreign Ministry has appointed about 20 people, including celebrities and disaster-area municipal employees, as "kizuna ambassadors," named for the Japanese word for the ties that bind people together.
One of them is the Sendai-based rock band Monkey Majik, with 2 Japanese and 2 Canadian members.
The group has been taking part in various volunteer activities.


. February 2012 .


. . Bulletins from NHK WORLD . .
. . Japan Times - JT . .

December 2011


Kibo ("Brimming with Hope")
Recipes and Stories from Japan's Tohoku

Written by Elizabeth Andoh
source : www.randomhouse.com


Team Heal Japan
Sean Muramatsu

Knit for Japan
Knitting charity to support victims of the Tohoku earthquake in Japan.
Bernd Kestler

source : knitforjapan.wordpress.com


. Sanriku Fukkoo 三陸復興 Help Sanriku ! .


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